From Ice Cream Man creators W. Maxwell Prince and Martin Morazzo comes a tale of fine art conspiracy, murder, and the madness behind the paintings in Art Brut #1. Featuring colors by Mat Lopes and Chris O’Halloran, as well as lettering from Good Old Neon, this opening chapter is a clear tribute to Silver Age adventure comics, but injected with Prince and Morazzo’s personal brand of modern absurdity. For fans of Ice Cream Man – or just inventive comics in general – this is a definite must-read.
“The world of fine art is falling apart, and only ART BRUT knows how to fix it. Alongside the Bureau of Artistic Integrity, Arthur Brut the Mad Dreampainter (and his trusty sidekick, Manny the Mannequin) must dive back into the very paintings that made him insane…or reality itself might just crumble to pieces. A colorful, gonzo romp through art and art history, ART BRUT is equal parts police procedural, hyper-fantasy, and psychological thriller-a veritable Pollock-splatter of comics genres tossed onto one giant pulpy canvas!”
Writing & Plot
Lovingly familiar yet wonderfully creative, W. Maxwell Prince’s script for Art Brut #1 is delightfully absurd in the most compelling ways. Like an episode of Johnny Quest after dropping acid at the Louvre, Prince’s story is a tribute to classic Silver Age adventure done with an exceedingly clever plot around the world of gallery art. Art Brut, an insane “Dreampainter,” is called upon to assist in solving a series of art-based murders happening across the globe. Little do his handlers know of the secrets behind the fine art world – and of the worlds existing behind the canvas. As readers of Prince’s work would expect, his script walks the tightrope of complete insanity and genuine humanity. In the middle of this abstract adventure comic lies a compelling story about a man whose sanity lies on the other side of the painted picture. Prince’s humor consistently lands and fits in with the tone of the story perfectly. While Art Brut does have its bloody bits, it isn’t a horror comic and stays consistently light-hearted throughout – with a couple melancholy scenes during the more intimate character moments. Brut is a character I can’t wait to uncover more about, and his adventures with his sidekick Manny the Mannequin are no doubt going to be a ridiculous ride as Prince explores the secrets behind this world of art.
Art Brut #1’s biggest draw for many is likely to be the unmistakable style of Martin Morazzo’s pencils. Before Ice Cream Man became a modern classic, Morazzo honed his unique sense of animation and character design in this eccentric indie comic. For those who may be worried that because Brut is an older comic the quality may not be quite up to snuff, have no fear. Morazzo’s work here looks as though this could be an Ice Cream Man follow-up instead of its predecessor. His signature style may be divisive to some, in a similar way Frank Quietly’s work is – after all, their penciling approach is alike. However, for those in tune with how unique this comic is and can accept an out of the ordinary art style, Morazzo’s work here is an absolute treat. His work here is perfectly complimented by the colors of Mat Lopes. The color artist behind The Dreaming and Ka-Zar brings his dynamic and dreamlike visual approach to this weird take on art itself and does so with a spectacular finish. Every panel smacks the reader in the face with vivid colorwork, and Lopes nails the transitions from the “normal” world to the weird artistic world with a smooth yet jarring finish. His work makes the pages seem like they could be reached into, much like the paintings Art and Manny investigate. Visually, Art Brut is an even more stunning achievement than Ice Cream Man, and captures this strange world of artistic conspiracy brilliantly.
Art Brut #1 is a delightfully strange and utterly unique comic that wears its influences on its sleeve, but is still very much its own beast. W. Maxwell Prince’s script is often hilarious, but also deeply human, with a sense of levity brought out by his clever dialogue and Silver Age sensibilities. The visuals from Martin Morazzo and Mat Lopes bring out that familiar style that fans of Ice Cream Man will be pleased to see, but with a very different tonal approach due to the colorwork. Be sure to grab this remastered issue when it hits shelves on December 14th!